The Magnetic Fields
The Charm Of The Highway Strip


4.5
superb

Review

by AggravatedYeti USER (46 Reviews)
May 25th, 2010 | 35 replies


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: One of these days I'm gonna leave you in your sleep.

Part of me feels like, if asked to sit down for a drink, Stephin Merritt and I would have quite a lot to talk about. We could wax poetic about the trials of a long lost love (“Long Vermont Roads”), the disposition of the modern American worker (“Born On A Train”), destruction of the minority culture (“Fear Of Trains”) -- all accompanied by twangy synths, shimmering guitars, and few squeaky strings thrown in for good measure. This would most likely work out fine, until we were both knee deep in our (current)glass and the fact that he’s probably insane would arise and I would promptly exit before we’re at each other’s throat. This divisive nature Stephin seems to enjoy projecting is something that’s always been a bit of a clincher to him though. His distinct, murky baritone, the driving backbone of the Fields, so much so that few are aware that this was the first album (fourth for the band) where he took control of all the vocal duties. Most just assume he always has. The light-hearted, psychedelic chamber-pop of the Fields first few records beguiles, almost going out of it's way to underplay The Highway Strip’s somber themes. Thankfully Merritt will not be suppressed, and the music just compliments his drunkard’s croon. It also doesn’t hurt that this record, which is obsessed with the American sprawl, happens to be one of the best at translating that feeling of desolate hope one can experience as the yellow lines begin to blur. But to equate this to a certain time and space is nearly pointless -- the US motorways serve as a plot point, but The Charm Of The Highway Strip is a road-trip record in the fullest sense. It transcends the locale and delivers seemingly simplistic pop songs as wide-eyed, cinematic ballads. Which in the end, one would suspect is exactly what Stephin Merritt and co. were trying to provide all along -- maybe he’s really not that crazy.



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user ratings (40)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
AggravatedYeti
May 25th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

this is here specifically because I'm sick of not being able to post about how much this rules.

so uhhh....

album kicks ass

Ponton
Emeritus
May 25th 2010


5803 Comments


i liked how you did this, allmusic-y layout but definitely a yeti review. Pos

good place to start with the fields?

AggravatedYeti
May 25th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Where I started to fully enjoy them. I had listened to Realism and i before, but this record really made me love them.


scotish
May 25th 2010


835 Comments


completely awes review. starting to really like this band, but I think I might go for this more as 69 love songs is pretty hard to digest

robin
Emeritus
May 25th 2010


4249 Comments


holy crap, i love you dylian siniscalchi.


Part of me feels like, if asked to sit down for a drink, Stephin Merritt and I would have quite a lot to talk about.


er, no, it's stephin merritt.

EVedder27
May 25th 2010


6088 Comments


Liking the one paragraph. I think I'm gonna start cutting mine down as well.

AggravatedYeti
May 25th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

holy crap, i love you dylan siniscalchi.


obv this was for you.
NOW WRITE A REVIEW FOR IT TOO

robin
Emeritus
May 25th 2010


4249 Comments


i was going to review it but was sort of holding out on rasp/you doing it, and you totally did. yours is awesome enough on its own. dylian.

also jared, just go all out and get 69 love songs. it probably won't end up your favourite but it's incredible.

AggravatedYeti
May 25th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

that album is so dense
I mean I'll prob 5 it, whatever, but it is a lot to take in all at once.

EVedder27
May 25th 2010


6088 Comments


I was gonna download that, but the 3 discs scared me away. Got Realism instead and I'm kinda regretting it.

robin
Emeritus
May 25th 2010


4249 Comments


you have become like other guys
dododoo
you have the sun i have the mooon.

also i could 5 this every other day, along with 69 love songs and distortion and i and holiday. so you totally should. im waiting for their discog to be covered, it must only be a couple of albums remaining by now.

(p.s, YOU'RE WELCOME)

robin
Emeritus
May 25th 2010


4249 Comments


i'm sick of people regretting realism, incidentally.

AggravatedYeti
May 25th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

oh yeah thx, of course, I mean its not like I haven't said that or anything okrobinsmith.

also Realism is very ehhh imo mike...I dunno, I'm told you appreciate it more as you listen to the rest of their records. But it was the first Fields LP I picked up too and well...I made fun of Robin for a while.

but to be fair I haven't listened to it since, so I may like it a lot more now.

EVedder27
May 25th 2010


6088 Comments


To be fair I haven't really given it a chance yet, so I'll push through

robin
Emeritus
May 25th 2010


4249 Comments


i dont know. maybe realism isn't "the album you listen to after youve heard the rest", but it felt like merritt knew he'd made a classic. i feel that way with so many of the albums i love that others dont, as if theyve been completely misinterpretated. to me it sounded like he'd perfected his whole insane, ironic, dry + witty side and then changed up the music completely. and it was still a fields record, and it was awesome.

so there.

AggravatedYeti
May 25th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEa_Dka0Nv4

that's some solid Stephin right there Mike ^

AggravatedYeti
May 25th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

ilu bb its ok.

[img]http://www.lapetiteclaudine.com/archives/stephenmerrittsalon.jpg[/img] that dude does too.

robin
Emeritus
May 25th 2010


4249 Comments


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFC3gthaTQc

AggravatedYeti
May 25th 2010


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

that's possibly the most brilliant thing I've ever heard.

he had to be shit plowed.

scotish
May 25th 2010


835 Comments


ahahaha
whether he did it on purpose just to screw them over or not, that was great.

also, re-iterating awesomeness of review!



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